Everything You Need to Know: The Denman Brush + Curly Hair

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Along with healthy, shiny locks, every curly girl wants beautifully defined curls. A few lucky women can achieve this straight out of the shower, but most of us have to put in a little effort to get the curls we long for.

Choosing the right products is essential, but your tools are just as important and one of the best is the Denman Brush. 

Curly hair styling tools don’t get much better than this. There are hundreds of YouTube videos singing the praises of these little red and black brushes, and many curl specialists recommend them for detangling. But you really need to choose the right brush for your curls and know how to use it correctly. 

So, this guide will help you get the most out of your Denman. We’ll tell you how to choose the best Denman styling brush for wavy, curly, or coily locks, and share some tips to help you achieve the gorgeous curls of your dreams.

What Is a Denman Brush?

If you’ve ever been in a salon, you will surely have seen a red and black Denman brush with its distinctive white pins. John Denman Dean designed the Denman Original Styling Brush in the late 1930s, and by the 1950s, they were seen in salons everywhere. 

The original styling brush is now known as the D3, and it’s a multi-functional hairbrush that you can use for detangling, drying, styling, and smoothing your locks. Together with other brushes in the range, like the D31 and D4, they’re great for boosting curl definition because the design of the bristles helps your curls clump together. 

Denman brushes are some of the most popular styling tools for curly girls. They can easily be purchased in stores and online, and you’ll see them used in many natural hair tutorials, blog posts, and TikTok clips.

Denman Curly Hair Brush D3

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What Is the Difference Between a Denman Brush and a Regular Brush?

Most regular brushes have a lot of closely packed bristles, which can break your strands and increase static and frizz. John Denman’s brushes have widely spaced nylon pins that glide effortlessly through your hair, creating gorgeous curl definition and smooth locks. 

The nylon bristles can also cope with high temperatures, so you can use your Denman with a blow dryer. The rounded cushion pad shapes and smooths your hair, and the unique shape of the handle makes styling more comfortable.

What are the benefits of a Denman Brush for Curly Hair?

The special design of a Denman styling brush makes it ideal for natural hair. Once you master the right technique, you’ll find it’s easy to create perfect curls and ringlets. 

The brush’s weight and sturdy nylon teeth help you create the tension needed for great curl definition, in the same way that pulling a gift-wrapping ribbon over a pair of scissors creates curls. 

Denmans also have a rounded rubber base that helps eliminate frizz and static. And because there are different versions with different numbers of pins, you can choose a model to suit your curls.

How To Use a Denman Brush When Styling Curly Hair

Curly girls are often told that brushing your hair can damage it, but when you know how to use it properly, a brush can be an essential part of your hair care kit. 

Here are a few vital points to remember when you use your Denman to detangle and style your hair.

Use on Wet Hair

Only use your Denman styling brush on hair that has been thoroughly saturated, as using your brush on dry hair could lead to frizz, damage, or breakage. 

If it’s not a wash day, you can spray your locks with water to dampen them, and keep the bottle on hand to re-dampen your tresses as needed.

Apply a Detangling Product

It’s also a good idea to apply a product that gives your hair some additional slip before you start working on tangles in your locks. 

A water-based leave-in conditioner or a curl cream will work well with your Denman, or you could try using styling products like a curl-enhancing mousse or light curl cream on fine or thin hair.

Section Your Hair

Section your hair and work through each section from root to tip, dampening your hair as needed. As a general rule, the tighter and denser your curls, the smaller your sections need to be and the slower you’ll need to work. 

You’ll need to be patient because detangling and styling your hair too quickly or without sectioning your locks will likely lead to breakage.

Turn the Bristles Upward

When you start styling your hair, turn the brush so that the pins face upward while you slide it along the length of your tresses. As you get close to the ends, turn the brush under, just like you would use a curling iron.

If you have wavy hair or loose curls, you could also try twirling your hair around the brush to form ringlets.

Finish your Style

Finally, once you’ve worked round your entire head, give your hair a scrunch to set the shape of your curls or ringlets. You can then use your fingers to break up curls or twist smaller sections of hair.

If your hair is type 2A to 3B, you could use a diffuser on your blow dryer to dry your hair or leave it to air dry. Finish your style by applying a light sealing oil like grapeseed oil on the ends. 

You can dry Type 3C to 4C hair naturally or use a hooded dryer and then finish with a rich sealing oil like black castor oil on the ends.

What Is the Best Denman Brush for Curly Hair?

Choosing the right Denman will help your brush glide effortlessly through your curls, which is essential to avoid breakage. 

So, what’s the difference between the models and which is best for you? These tips will help you choose:

The Best Denman Brush for Type 2 Hair

Type 2 hair is looser than curly and coily hair, and getting your waves to clump together can be tricky. The D3 Classic Styling Brush is the original Denman styling brush with seven close-set rows of round-ended pins which make it excellent at detangling and defining your waves.

If the pins are too close together for your locks, try removing a row or two so your hair can pass between them more easily. 

Denman Curly Hair Brush D3

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For longer waves, you might prefer the Denman D4 Brush with its larger pad and nine rows of pins.

Denman Curly Hair Brush D4

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The Best Denman Brush for Type 3 Hair

The Denman D3 or D4 would both work well for type 3 hair. Typically you’d use the D3 for short to medium hair and the D4 for longer hair. The D4 is also a good option for tighter curls if you don’t struggle too much with tangling.

Denman Curly Hair Brush D3

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Denman Curly Hair Brush D4

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What Denman Is Best for Type 4 Hair?

If you have the tight coils or kinks of Type 4 hair, using a brush with wide-spread pins is essential to avoid breaking your hair. 

The D31 is ideal for Type 4 hair because the pins are set far apart to avoid snagging and you can easily remove rows of pins to help your hair glide through more easily. 

Denman D31 Free Flow Wide Spaced Pins 7 Row
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Not sure which hair type you have? Our Curly Hair Type Quiz will help you work it out!


If you want more information before you purchase a Denman Brush, these frequently asked questions will help you decide.

Can the Denman Styling Brush Be Used on All Types of Curly Hair?

Denman Brushes are suitable for all natural hair types, with some specific models being better suited to wavy, curly, and coily hair. 

Is It Better To Use a Denman on Wet or Dry Hair?

Brushing dry hair could cause breakage so be sure to saturate your locks first with a detangler spray or leave-in conditioner that gives plenty of slip. For best results, you could also use a wide-toothed comb first before turning to your Denman.

What Are Some Tips for Preventing Breakage When Using the Denman Brush?

As well as using your Denman brush on saturated hair, you could also try removing one or two rows of pins to help your hair flow through more easily. If you still find you’re experiencing breakage, switching to a different brush would be better.

What Does D3 Mean in Denman Brushes?

There are several different options in the Denman range, and D3 is the name of one specific model. The D3 is the Original Styler 7 Row brush that’s suitable for most short to medium-length hair types.

Do Denman Brushes Reduce Frizz?

The rounded cushion on a Denman Brush helps reduce frizz when you use it on wet hair. However, avoid using the brush on dry curls, as this can increase frizz and damage your strands.

Can You Use a Denman Brush With a Hair Dryer?

It’s fine to use your Denman Brush when you’re blow drying your tresses. That’s because the pins are made from nylon, so they won’t melt under the heat of your blow dryer.

Is the Denman Brush Worth It?

If you’re stuck in a never-ending search for great curl definition without frizz or breakage, a Denman Brush is a fantastic addition to your hair care routine. Many curl stylists agree that they’re the best brushes for detangling curly hair, and the different models you can buy mean there’s a brush to suit every hair type.

Using a Denman Brush can take a little time and patience, especially on thick hair or tight curls. But once you’ve mastered the technique, we think you’ll agree that the effort is worth the gorgeous look you create.

denman brush used on woman with brown curls

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